The inauguration on September 20, 1964 of the Magic Lantern cinema was quite an event in the country’s capital, because Adolfo López Mateos and John F. Kennedy, presidents of Mexico and the United States, inaugurated it as part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of National Independence and the 50th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.
58 years after that event, the Technical Council of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) approved the request to restart operations of the Magic Lantern cinema as a space for culture, recreation and health promotion.
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Located in the Independencia Unit, in the Magdalena Contreras mayor’s office, “it was a cinema with a huge room,” he reminded The Sun of Mexico Luis Gerardo Quijano Morales, mayor of Magdalena Contreras, who inherited the collaboration agreement between the IMSS and the mayor’s office for the rescue of the site.
The arrival of television and then the possibility of watching movies at home, first with VCRs and then DVDs, led these large cinematographic venues to ruin and some were left standing, but abandoned, such as the Opera, Mariscala, Eden, Varieties and Palacio Chinese. Others were demolished by the pickaxe, among them, Carousel, Coliseo, Rivoli, Paris, Titán, Gloria and Colón.
In a quest for profitability, the Magic Lantern cinema, like others, was divided into two rooms, but its glory days and great influx of spectators went down in history and the building was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Given this, the IMSS decided to rescue it to give new life to the property that will have three rooms, a large one with 348 seats and two smaller rooms on the upper floor with 47 seats, which will include high definition movie projectors, candy store, plumbing and spaces for wide, comfortable and safe circulation.
Mauricio Hernández Ávila, director of Economic and Social Benefits, reported that the objective is to recover this iconic space in national history, expand the offer of cultural services with theater, cinema and also promote the promotion of health, education and sports activities that contribute to the well-being of people.
He added that the recovery was made in alliance with the government of the Magdalena Contreras mayor’s office, where the cultural and entertainment offer will be improved, with a movie theater at affordable prices.
In this sense, there are plans to sign agreements with the National Film Library, the Film Training Center, the Film Library of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University Center for Film Studies and the National School of Arts, among others.
Although the IMSS did not announce the date on which the cinema will be reopened, it announced that the exhibition of films will include national and foreign films, in addition to those that have had Social Security facilities as locations, among them Mr. Doctor, Rome Y death in love.
The cinema, as recognized by the IMSS, had equipment and furniture that were more than 50 years old, so its maintenance was impossible and required the acquisition of 1,073 goods for the rehabilitation and reopening of the premises.
So far, it accumulates six contracts for this service. Among them a structural safety opinion, the works for the rehabilitation of the theater marquee and the order to make all the furniture.
The mayor of Magdalena Contreras affirmed that the remodeling of the cinema is complete and that the IMSS is only waiting for the delivery of the sound equipment, projection, screens and seats, which was complicated by Covid-19.
This rehabilitation, recognized the official, means a lot an issue of identity, because the inhabitants of the demarcation have many good memories, they are happy with the recovery of that emblematic cinema, culturally, it can bring them a lot with samples of films and with prices accessible to citizens, since it will be operated by that institution.
He expressed his enthusiasm because soon the functions will resume and that this project, in addition to the investment and economic recovery to be achieved. “It is a strong cultural project, which has a lot to do with the identity of the mayor’s office, most of the people from Contreras over the age of 40 approximately locate the cinema, they have some link with the cinema in some way. The theme of identity for us is fundamental in a project like this”, he said.
Another importance that the cinema had for the inhabitants of that demarcation is that it was the only functional and active one for several kilometers around, if one takes into account that the closest one was the one in Pedregal del Lago and that it was not a very large room.
He recognized that another was Víctor Manuel Mendoza, the lousewhich is very close to the mayor’s office, which has had two important investments by previous administrations of the demarcation and announced that it will soon reopen its doors as a cultural forum.